Bombshell: Paul Invented the Last Supper!

Top 10 Facts about The Last Supper from Leonardo da Vinci - Discover Walks  Blog

Ex-Christian pastor David Madison brought up a very intriguing topic on Debunking Christianity blog today: Did Paul get the story of the Last Supper from the original disciples of Jesus, as most Christians believe, or did the authors of the Gospels get this story from Paul??

We know that the authors of Matthew and Luke copied Mark extensively. And the author of John says not one word about a Last Supper in his gospel. According to this gospel, Jesus was washing people’s feet the night of his arrest. So is it possible that the author of Mark got this story from Paul and simply added some embellishments??

Paul tells us almost nothing about the historical Jesus in his epistles. In fact, Paul never gives us any detailed stories about the life and deeds of Jesus, except one: the Last Supper. So why out of all the stories (allegedly) told to Paul by the disciples about Jesus, did he only pick the story of the Last Supper to include in his epistles? Why not a detailed story about the Crucifixion, or more importantly, the Resurrection? Christian apologists excuse the near total silence in Paul’s writings regarding the historical Jesus, saying that Paul was addressing specific issues with specific churches in his epistles: “Why would Paul bother telling stories about the historical Jesus in his epistles? That was not the purpose of these letters.” Ok… Maybe that’s true. But let’s look at a passage from Paul which represents one of the very few occasions that Paul does say something about the historical Jesus…or does he?

For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[c]25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

–Paul of Tarsus, in his first letter to the Corinthians, chapter 11

Note the first line of this passage: “for I received from the Lord…”.

How very, very odd!

Paul doesn’t claim here that he received this information about the Last Supper from Peter and James during his two week stay with them in Jerusalem, which is what most Christian apologists will tell you is the means by which Paul knew this information. Nope. What’s more, Paul doesn’t even use the verb “received” in an anonymous sense when talking about how he received this information, as he does in chapter 15 of the same epistle when discussing how he obtained the list of (alleged) eyewitnesses to the appearances of the resurrected Jesus. Nope. Paul very clearly states that the information regarding the Last Supper came directly from the mouth of Jesus the Christ himself!

Wow. I never noticed that before!

Paul had another one of his trances! Paul was hearing voices in his head again.

The Lord’s Supper, the Last Supper, occurred in the mentally deranged brain of Paul, not in reality! The author of Mark, possibly a Pauline Christian living in Rome or Antioch, heard this story from Paul and simply added some embellishments when he retold it in his best seller—the Gospel of Mark!

My, my, my!

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End of post.

68 thoughts on “Bombshell: Paul Invented the Last Supper!

  1. I listened to James Tabor’s Paul and Jesus audiobook last year and really enjoyed it. He talks about this topic – I’m gonna have to track down a hard copy of the book and read it again.

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  2. Dear Gary,

    Good article. I have said it often and I would like to say it again. Christians are high on POT – Paul of Tarsus. It is evident that Paul’s narcissism did not allow him to learn from the apostles. In fact James Tabor is right: Paul never knew Jesus. His schizophrenia led him to Arabia where he had his revelations. Let me throw a bit of sarcasm here. Did he perhaps go to the same academy that Mohammed went to, maybe the ACA – Arabian Cave Academy?
    Paul and Mohammed were cut from the same cloth. They both shared copious schizophrenic, psychotic and narcissistic traits.
    His delusion about the Last Supper is firmly rooted in the idea that Jesus was the Passover lamb. This construct has some serious flaws namely:
    1. He was not a spotless lamb
    2. He was mutilated through circumcision
    3. He was scourged
    4.. The Passover lamb was never a sin sacrifice
    5. He was not slaughtered by the High Priest
    6. His body was never burnt
    7. His blood was not collected and dealt with in the prescribed manner
    7. He was not sinless as he cursed the fig tree
    and caused a raucous upsetting the status quo of the animal vendors and exchange bureaus.
    Paul had a perverted interpretation of the Tanakh and elasticized the interpretation to suit his newly invented religion. I can go on ad nauseam, which would be redundant considering the extensive and accurate work that Scott Nelson did on Paul.
    Shabbat Shalom
    Michael

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I absolutely love … love … LOVE this line: Christians are high on POT – Paul of Tarsus.!!

      For sooo many reasons, this totally defines Christianity.

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    2. Maybe Paul wasn’t suffering schizophrenia, hallucinations, or anything else for that matter. Maybe he just built his own self up because he was jealous of all that was before him… you know the type. Maybe he was just an habitual liar! God forgive me if I’m wrong.

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  3. I am just a lifelong student of the Tanakh and Catholic writings a.k.a. NT. My journey started on October 1973, while still a Evangelical Christian when my father dropped the bombshell when he said to me and my wife: ‘Christianity is harlotry.’ I then started looking at early Christianity by studying the early church fathers and their writings. In 1997 my wife and I transitioned to Messianic Judaism but soon realized it is just another brand of Christianity wrapped in a thin layer of Judaism. I then delved into Judaic studies and discovered many precious gems in people and literary works scattered across the historical landscape. I also came to realize that Judaism has it’s own pitfalls of human interpretations that do not comport with the Torah. I came to the conclusion that the Torah is the bedrock of my faith and all the Catholic and Jewish writings are just commentaries. I have and still do study with rabbis but I am acutely aware of the human propensity to expand interpretation beyond the boundaries of the Torah. I even questioned the Torah. How do I know it is true? In my search I came across a video presentation by Rabbi Lawrence Kelemen on the veracity of the Torah, which is an absolute gem and worth watching. Here is the link:

    Studying Hebrew allows me to see the manipulation of the biblical text to align with the Catholic writings. It all started with Mr. POT – the darling of Christianity.
    In conclusion I can say that I am liberated from Christianity yet have compassion for deceived Christians. I am also acutely aware of the pitfalls of Judaism, but the latter at least contains no blasphemy of worshipping that which is not YHVH.

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    1. Very interesting. I thought you might be Rabbi Michael Skobac of Jews for Judaism fame. He has a similar view of Paul. I have watched many of his Youtube videos. Thank you for sharing your views with us!

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      1. Hi Gary,
        Michael Scobac is brilliant. He points out the errors of Christianity in a gentle yet convincing manner. Similarly, Tovia Singer has some very convincing words and n the same subject. I have learnt a lot from Bart Ehrman’s writings. His cogent arguments on the serious anomalies between the Catholic gospels are indeed thought provoking, much to the umbrage of Christian apologists.

        Michael

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          1. I’ve read many of his non academic books and enjoyed them all, but I do think each book gets farther away from his area of expertise – which is what? Textual criticism, manuscript history? I think books like Misquoting Jesus and Forged are in his areas of expertise, And his translations of the early church fathers and some of his works from the 90s. Having been a religious studies professor for decades I guess means he is qualified to write trade books even if they are not his area of specialization. How Jesus became God or Heaven and Hell, or Jesus before the gospels – which deals with memory studies. He said on his blog that he spends a couple years reading about a topic he’s going to write if he’s not that familiar with it- like heaven and hell -and then writes a book on it. That probably opens him up to criticism on those topics he’s not a specialist in, but most of the books you see in a bookstore are really for a general audience anyway.

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    2. When I started learning ancient language’s and realizing how many times they we’re re-defined. New translation after new translation in Hebrew a lone. I realized that thing’s just didn’t fit as I was taught. I’m a believer but I refuse to be labeled as a Christian! If being a christian means refusing to feed or help someone from a different culture, religion or because their an immigrant then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means you place your nation above every other nation, you pledge to it, you idolize it’s symbols then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means that only one religion is going to heaven and you should avoid other’s simply because your pastor or your religion says you have too instead of living as the bible says that Jesus did then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means you have to be of a certain political affiliation then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means being controlled then I’m not a Christian. If being a Christian means that I believe that I do not sin then I’m not a Christian.

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  4. Per the details, Paul, from Tarsus, “no mean city” in the words that whoever wrote Acts (NOT a guy allegedly on ship with Paul named “Luke”) put in his mouth, probably knew something about the Greek mysteries, ie, like the mystery of Demeter at Eleusis. This may be one source for him creating something entirely new off the basis of a Passover seder. (IF Jesus was crucified on or anything around Passover. There’s the argument by Hyam Maccoby that the event as described in the Gospels actually comes off as much more like the Festival of Booths, Sukkoth.)

    One other note that most New Testament critics ALSO get wrong. The Greek verb “παραδίδωμι,” usually translated as “betrayed,” has the same form in Greek when used as an intransitive/reflexive verb and as a passive. In the former form, it is not translated as “betrayed” (where we’d usually expect a passive agent, as in “betrayed BY Mr. X”), but is better translated as “arrested.”

    Again, not just me saying this. The Gospels use this very verb in this intransitive, not passive, sense, of Jesus hearing of the arrest of John the Baptizer. https://biblehub.com/greek/3860.htm

    In short, Paul’s account of some Jewish equivalent of a Greek mystery religion meal has no “conniving Judas” legend behind it.

    The Judas legend probably arose from early Christians writing the equivalent of Rabbinic “pesher,” as they glommed through the Tanakh for “proof tests,” and saw Psalm 109, among other things.

    Heck, with 12 being a symbolic number, and variants in names, we have no idea if/that Jesus had TWELVE as an inner core of followers anyway.

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  5. “For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for[b] you. Do this in remembrance of me.”[c]25 In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.”

    The thing that Paul “received from the Lord” was NOT “that… Jesus… on the night…(etc)”, but, starts at vs 26 and continues from there:

    “For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until He comes.

    27 Therefore whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy way, shall be guilty of the body and the blood of the Lord. 28 But a person must examine himself, and in so doing he is to eat of the bread and drink of the cup. 29 For the one who eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment to himself if he does not properly recognize the [p]body. 30 For this reason many among you are weak and sick, and a number [q]are asleep. 31 But if we judged ourselves rightly, we would not be judged.

    It is THESE verses – the “effects” (as it were) of the “Lord’s Supper” – that was “received from the Lord”.

    Paul treats the “story of the ‘Last Supper'” as a given. “Given that Jesus, on the night he was betrayed…” and then makes his point about that pericope” “For as often as you eat this bread….. (etc)”.

    It’s only if you successfully blind yourself to the REST of what is being said that you can come up with the understanding that Paul got the story of the Last Supper from some kind of “Jesus revelation”.

    If you read the WHOLE of what’s being said, it’s obvious that the story about Jesus’ last supper was already KNOWN, and – what Paul received from the Lord is that “as often as you eat this bread… you proclaim the Lord’s death… THEREFORE…. blablalba”.

    I don’t see any big “bombshell” here at all.

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    1. The thing that Paul “received from the Lord” was NOT “that… Jesus… on the night…(etc)”, but, starts at vs 26 and continues from there:

      Did Paul tell you this personally? If not, how do you know?

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      1. Read what precedes the passage you mention.

        “Therefore when you come together it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper, 21 for when you eat, each one takes his own supper first; and one goes hungry while another gets drunk. 22 What! Do you not have houses in which to eat and drink? Or do you despise the church of God and shame those who have nothing? What am I to say to you? Shall I praise you? In this I do not praise you.”

        This is the issue that this church – which obviously already knew about the Lord’s Supper – was having. And, this is the very reason that Paul makes the meaning of the Lord’s Supper clear, as a correction.

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        1. Here is the entire chapter:

          1 Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ.

          On Covering the Head in Worship
          2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the traditions just as I passed them on to you. 3 But I want you to realize that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man,[a] and the head of Christ is God. 4 Every man who prays or prophesies with his head covered dishonors his head. 5 But every woman who prays or prophesies with her head uncovered dishonors her head—it is the same as having her head shaved. 6 For if a woman does not cover her head, she might as well have her hair cut off; but if it is a disgrace for a woman to have her hair cut off or her head shaved, then she should cover her head.

          7 A man ought not to cover his head,[b] since he is the image and glory of God; but woman is the glory of man. 8 For man did not come from woman, but woman from man; 9 neither was man created for woman, but woman for man. 10 It is for this reason that a woman ought to have authority over her own[c] head, because of the angels. 11 Nevertheless, in the Lord woman is not independent of man, nor is man independent of woman. 12 For as woman came from man, so also man is born of woman. But everything comes from God.

          13 Judge for yourselves: Is it proper for a woman to pray to God with her head uncovered? 14 Does not the very nature of things teach you that if a man has long hair, it is a disgrace to him, 15 but that if a woman has long hair, it is her glory? For long hair is given to her as a covering. 16 If anyone wants to be contentious about this, we have no other practice—nor do the churches of God.

          Correcting an Abuse of the Lord’s Supper
          17 In the following directives I have no praise for you, for your meetings do more harm than good. 18 In the first place, I hear that when you come together as a church, there are divisions among you, and to some extent I believe it. 19 No doubt there have to be differences among you to show which of you have God’s approval. 20 So then, when you come together, it is not the Lord’s Supper you eat, 21 for when you are eating, some of you go ahead with your own private suppers. As a result, one person remains hungry and another gets drunk. 22 Don’t you have homes to eat and drink in? Or do you despise the church of God by humiliating those who have nothing? What shall I say to you? Shall I praise you? Certainly not in this matter!

          23 For I received from the Lord what I also passed on to you: The Lord Jesus, on the night he was betrayed, took bread, 24 and when he had given thanks, he broke it and said, “This is my body, which is for you; do this in remembrance of me.” 25 In the same way, after supper he took the cup, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood; do this, whenever you drink it, in remembrance of me.” 26 For whenever you eat this bread and drink this cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

          27 So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves. 30 That is why many among you are weak and sick, and a number of you have fallen asleep. 31 But if we were more discerning with regard to ourselves, we would not come under such judgment. 32 Nevertheless, when we are judged in this way by the Lord, we are being disciplined so that we will not be finally condemned with the world.

          33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you gather to eat, you should all eat together. 34 Anyone who is hungry should eat something at home, so that when you meet together it may not result in judgment.

          And when I come I will give further directions.

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          1. I see no reason why my interpretation is not the correct interpretation. I am not saying that your interpretation is wrong, but if I found this entire chapter/statement in a bottle on a beach, and I had no idea who the author was, I would think that the author got his information about this “supper” directly from whomever “the Lord” is.

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  6. “if I found this entire chapter/statement in a bottle on a beach, and I had no idea who the author was,I would think that the author got his information about this “supper” directly from whomever “the Lord” is”.

    But, you didn’t find this in a bottle on the beach, and you most assuredly have an idea who the author was.

    You probably also know that Paul was writing to Corinth from Ephesus, regarding behaviors he had earlier observed in Corinth, and to answer questions that came up from “believers” in Corinth.

    He is not writing to tell them some “new revelation” of “the Lord’s Supper”. It’s obvious, from the text, that Paul had observed them already “doing” the Lord’s supper, and, now he is writing to them later, from Ephesus, to let them know that they were doing it wrong (or, at least, for the wrong motivations). So, he is telling them the meaning behind the Lord’s Supper, and it was that meaning (or, purpose) which was something that was “revealed” to him. Again, it’s clear from the text that Paul, writing from a distance, and after the fact (of his observation of Corinth’s “Lord’s Supper”) that they were already doing the Lord’s Supper before he even got there.

    If one wishes to ignore very obvious textual clues, and historical clues (when was the letter written, from where was it written, and was it being written to institute something new, or to correct something that was already being done, only, improperly), then sure, I can see where one might think that Paul was saying that the “Lord’s Supper” pericope was “revealed” to him.

    Of course, it could get real problematic if someone went from the church at Corinth to visit the church at Jerusalem, and discovered that Peter, John – or, in fact, nobody – in Jerusalem had ever known anything at all about a “Lord’s Supper”, and certainly knew nothing about they themselves being involved in such an occassion.

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    1. Nothing you have said convinces me that it is impossible that Paul was claiming that he had received this story directly from the mouth of Jesus in the Arabian desert…or so his mentally unstable mind believed. Paul was very proud that he had received his instruction directly from Jesus, not from others:

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    2. Paul of Tarsus, his epistle to the Galatians:

      For I want you to know, brothers and sisters,[d] that the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

      13 You have heard, no doubt, of my earlier life in Judaism. I was violently persecuting the church of God and was trying to destroy it. 14 I advanced in Judaism beyond many among my people of the same age, for I was far more zealous for the traditions of my ancestors. 15 But when God, who had set me apart before I was born and called me through his grace, was pleased 16 to reveal his Son to me,[e] so that I might proclaim him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with any human being, 17 nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were already apostles before me, but I went away at once into Arabia, and afterwards I returned to Damascus.

      18 Then after three years I did go up to Jerusalem to visit Cephas and stayed with him fifteen days; 19 but I did not see any other apostle except James the Lord’s brother. 20 In what I am writing to you, before God, I do not lie! 21 Then I went into the regions of Syria and Cilicia, 22 and I was still unknown by sight to the churches of Judea that are in Christ; 23 they only heard it said, “The one who formerly was persecuting us is now proclaiming the faith he once tried to destroy.” 24 And they glorified God because of me.

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      1. Paul very clearly states that he learned “the good news” directly from “the Lord”. He did not learn it or receive it from human sources.

        Paul was nuts. He was hearing voices. Such a person today would be institutionalized. Yet, millions of Christians hang on every word this mentally ill man said. How sad.

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        1. Kind of interesting in verse 14 where he says he was ahead of the pack in Judaism- better than the others his age. Kind of plays into his attitude of not caring what the disciples said or thought if it went against his idea of Jesus. He was ahead of that pack as well, apparently.

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          1. Why would Paul take advice from the Judaizers, Peter and James, when he was perfectly capable of receiving more accurate information from the back-from-the-dead Jesus himself?

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  7. What he said in Galatians is ” For I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not [f]of human invention. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.”

    He had a revelation OF Jesus, not a revelation FROM Jesus. “Christ” – the “risen Jesus” – was what was “revealed” to him. And, apparently, this happened in is own “seeing” of the risen Jesus (“Have I not seen our Lord?”, he says in Galatians).

    His whole point in that first part of Galatians is that he was an apostle, not by virtue of having been appointed by man, but by virtue of having seen the risen Jesus.

    Pauls “good news” – the fact that Jesus had been raised from the dead – is something he claims to have seen himself. That was the “uncovering” (which is what the Greek says, and which is translated as “revelation”) of the risen Jesus.

    If one thinks Paul’s “gospel” was a lengthy, involved, and complex thing – something along the lines of “The Gospels” (the books) – one would be badly mistaken. His “good news” was that Jesus died, and was raised from the dead and is Messiah.

    And, of course, if he actually saw the “risen Jesus”, then it was of course quite obvious (to him) that Jesus had been raised fro the dead.

    But, you misquote Paul, and horrifically misrepresent what he says, when you claim he said that “he learned “the good news” directly from “the Lord”. That is not at all what he said.

    I don’t know if he was nuts or not.

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    1. the gospel that was proclaimed by me is not of human origin; 12 for I did not receive it from a human source, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.

      You are interpreting this passage through rose colored glasses. It is entirely possible that all of Paul’s teachings, from his belief in salvation by what you believe (faith) instead of what you do (following the Law) and his belief about a “Last Supper” were entirely invented in his demented mind. I’m not going to argue with you further on this point.

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  8. You’re welcome to your own opinion as to what Paul is saying, and welcome to ignore the text, the textual context, and the historical context if you like.

    I’m sure you will get lots of “agreement” on your views from those who already agree with them.

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    1. Tell me why it is impossible for Paul to have believed that Jesus had revealed to him what was said at the Last Supper in a “heavenly vision”. You can’t. You can assume all day long that your view is correct, but you cannot prove that my interpretation is impossible. And if my interpretation is possible, most non-Christians are going to agree that my interpretation is more probable.

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  9. I can’t tell you “why it is impossible” for Paul to have believed that a cow jumped over the moon.

    What I’m saying is that it’s clear from the text, and from the fact that Paul is simply responding to observed behaviors and correcting them, that he is not, in the Corinthian passages, making any claims whatsoever to having gotten the “Lord’s Supper” idea from any kind of vision. As I pointed out earlier, the Corinthians were already doing the “Lord’s Supper”.

    So, you’re totally welcome to believe what you want, based on whatever you base stuff on. It’s no sweat off my back. And, others are welcome to believe what they want, just as well. I presume that I am equally welcome to believe what I believe.

    But, I don’t have to depend on twisting words for my view. Paul had a revelation OF Christ, not a revelation FROM Christ (if one can manage to read what the Greek says). It was (more literally) an “uncovering of Christ” – and this really can’t be translated as an “uncovering FROM Christ”. But, I guess you don’t read Greek.

    As far as what most non-Christians agree with, my guess is that about 100% of them don’t believe Jesus was raised from the dead. And, so what else is new?

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  10. Regarding Galatians 1:16, translated in some English bibles as “when God… revealed Christ in me”.

    It’s also translated in other English bibles “when God… revealed Christ TO me”.

    so, which is it?

    Look at Matt 10:32, which (in Greek) uses the same word “en”, which is translated in the Gal passage as either “in” or “to”.

    In Greek, Matt 10:32 really reads “any who shall avow ‘en’ (gk) me… I shall avow ‘en’ (gk) him..” So, does one “avow IN another person”, or does one “avow TO another person”? One avows TO another person.

    Going back to Gal 1:16, once again we see the word “revealed”, but in Greek, it is “to from cover”, like this: “…God in his grace to from-cover Jesus ‘en’ (gk) me”. Again, it’s “to uncover” or “to unveil”. And it makes sense to “uncover something” or “unveil something” TO someone, just as it makes sense to “avow TO someone” (as in Matt).

    I have no idea why some translations say “Christ revealed IN me”, because the Greek really says (essentially) “Christ unveiled TO me”.

    But, I’d say stick with your reliance on shoddy English translations for your arguments. It makes for shoddy arguments.

    LJS: – apokalyptō – “uncover”. This is used in the literal sense, as to uncover (from the ground) a treasure. But, it is also used in a figurative sense, as to “uncover one’s thoughts” — which we would translate as “reveal one’s thoughts”. But, in Greek, one “uncovers” one’s thoughts. Also, in Greek, it is used as in “uncover the truth”, which we might just translate quite literally (“uncover the truth”), or, if it sounded better to the translator, it might be “make known the truth”. But the word literally means to bring something from beneath cover, to uncover.
    .

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    1. The very fact that there are a multitude of “translations” of a book written over two thousand-plus years ago by a wide range of individuals is ample proof that none of it can be used as valid evidence for anything. Yet people continue to try.

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      1. So, you’re saying that the fact that the American Declaration of Independence has been translated into a hundred other languages must therefore mean that the original=languange (English) version can no longer be considered valid evidence for anything?????

        Wow.

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          1. Oh, I get it. It’s just PAUL’S writings that cannot be considered “valid evidence” for anything, once they’ve been translated. As if translation somehow affects what was said in the original language.

            But, OTHER documents? Yeh, they’re just fine, even after translation.

            Got it.

            Nan, you’re a hoot. Seriously. I’m gonna copy our little exchange above and post it for laughs. It may truly be the most illogical response I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Seriously.

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            1. HM: How do we verify the claims made by the author who calls himself “Paul” in his seven (agreed upon) letters/epistles? How do we know that what he says in his letters even happened? For instance: How do we know that he met with a “Peter” and a “James” in Jerusalem at some point in time after his conversion to Christianity?

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  11. How do “we” verify Paul’s claims? That’s a good question, but I’m not an historian. I guess I would have to read what historians say about it.

    I was just responding to what Nan said, which was “The very fact that there are a multitude of “translations” of a book written over two thousand-plus years ago by a wide range of individuals is ample proof that none of it can be used as valid evidence for anything.”

    The fact that there are multiple translations of a book written 2000 years ago (or, 10 years ago or 200 years ago) is hardly “ample proof” that none of the book can be used as “valid evidence for anything”. I can take a text in Spanish and translate it in any number of ways (in English), but my (probably) faulty translations don’t have any effect on what the original Spanish says.

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    1. IMO, the keywords in this discussion are “valid evidence.” There can be a plethora of assumptions and speculations and opinions about the contents of the bible, but none of them add up to “evidence.” Bottom line — its validity rests entirely with the individual reading it.

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      1. I agree. I don’t see any valid evidence why any educated person should believe that the anonymous author of Acts possessed reliable, accurate information about the author of the seven authentic Pauline epistles. Nor do I see any valid evidence that confirms the claims made by the author of the seven Pauline epistles, who refers to himself as “Paul”, that anything he claimed about himself was true.

        In reality, the entire Christian religion could be the product of one man’s mentally ill mind.

        Resurrected corpses (zombies) flying off into the clouds. It’s preposterous!

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    2. Yes, I understand what you are saying.

      My point is that while everyone seems to accept as fact that the “Paul” who wrote seven mid first century Christian letters (which writing analysts believe came from the same person) is the same Paul described in the anonymous early second century work The Book Acts, isn’t it entirely possible that the Paul in The Book of Acts is a fictional character, invented by someone who wanted to give the Paul of the epistles a fuller persona?

      Bottom line: We have no way of knowing what if anything that this “Paul” said was the truth, a lie, or an invention of a mentally unstable mind.

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      1. re: IMO, the keywords in this discussion are “valid evidence.”

        Nan, “valid evidence” of what, exactly? Paul’s authentic letters are most assuredly valid evidence of a lot of stuff about the first century, such as social structures, who was in power at this-or-that point, etc, etc.

        You paint with such broad brushstrokes that in renders whatever it is you’re trying to say as “moot”.

        re: “My point is that while everyone seems to accept as fact that the “Paul” who wrote seven mid first century Christian letters (which writing analysts believe came from the same person) is the same Paul described in the anonymous early second century work The Book Acts….”

        “everyone seems to accept the fact … Paul… who wrote letters… is the same as Paul described in… Acts”???

        Paul, who wrote the aforementioned “seven authentic letters”, is “Paul” – according to how he signed his letters. That’s the name of the guy who wrote the letters. It’s that simple. And, those letters are themselves considered “historical”, as documents written by a person who lived in that time.

        Was that author, Paul, the same as the Paul referenced in the book of Acts?

        That IS debated. There are some that assert that “Paul”, as personified in Acts, is an accurate portrayal of the Paul that wrote the “authentic Pauline epistles”, and there are certainly those that say the representation of Paul in Acts is purely fictionalized. The “historical accuracy” of Luke/Acts has been debated practically nonstop for the last 150 years.

        You guys just throw “junk” out there, and YOU “believe” what you’re saying, but, someone like me comes in, and reads the stuff, and yes, I can see how you agree with each other, but, neither of you are saying anything that is even remotely going to convince someone else.

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        1. Do you believe that the man who self-identifies as “Paul” in the seven Pauline epistles was telling the truth regarding his meeting with Peter and James in Jerusalem, as he states in Galatians? If so, why?

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  12. I don’t see anything even remotely remarkable about Paul meeting Peter in Jerusalem. It’s not an extraordinary event. Peter had some “prominence” in the church (clearly, the Galatians at least knew of Peter such that Paul didn’t need to explain to them who Peter was, and Paul assumes that the Galatians knew who Peter was), but how many “believers” do you think there were? Peter was “prominent” among a group that was still probably pretty small. So, it’s not like he was a “rock star” with a secretary who had to “pencil in” Paul for a visit or something. And, it’s believable that Peter would have an interest in meeting Paul – a guy who had been persecuting the church in some fashion, but then, became a believer himself.

    There’s just nothing in what Paul says in Galatians that strikes me as “unbelievable”. Paul doesn’t really even make a great point about having met Peter and James. He most certainly isn’t making any point that he “really truly had an audience with the Great Man”. He says it in a totally “routine” fashion. Most likely, anybody that wanted to meet Peter could manage to do so. Paul is simply saying he managed to do so. He says the only other apostle he met was James. It’s not as if he’s trying to impress anyone, especially not with some tale of having met ALL the apostles, and being given great recognition from any of them, and being welcomed as one of them. There’s nothing like that at all.

    Given the simplicity of “Then three years later I went up to Jerusalem to become acquainted with Cephas, and stayed with him for fifteen days. But I did not see another one of the apostles except James, the Lord’s brother”, it’s difficult to imagine why Paul would invent such a tale.

    He says “Now in what I am writing to you, I assure you before God that I am not lying”, and this is in reference to the several paragraphs he has already written about “…I did not immediately consult with flesh and blood, nor did I go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went away to Arabia, and returned once more to Damascus”.

    The whole point Paul is making is “I would have you know, brothers and sisters, that the gospel which was preached by me is not of human invention”.

    So, yeh, OK, Paul has his “conversion” experience. He didn’t “consult with flesh and blood”, he didn’t immediately go seek out the apostles. It was THREE YEARS before he went to Peter, in fact. And that’s his point.

    So, do I believe Paul is telling the truth about meeting Peter and James? I can’t see any reason not to believe it. There is nothing of “supernatural import” in Paul’s story of meeting Peter, nothing “miraculous” about it, nothing of dreams or visions involved, nothing that smacks of overstatement, and nothing about the story promotes Paul’s own image or credibility. The whole thing looks amazingly “ordinary” to me. This is very plain telling of “how things went”.

    In fact, the more I look at it, I have to wonder exactly what YOUR problem with it is?

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    1. I agree that it doesn’t sound like an extra-ordinary claim. He didn’t claim anything preposterous, like meeting with Elisha and Moses on the top of a mountain. But would you agree that it is still possible that he made up this story, for whatever reason?

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      1. If history repeats itself, HolyMoly (aka FT Bond) will not answer this question. He will dodge it. He knows what my response will be and it shuts down his argument:

        Why do you (FT) build your entire life and worldview on the testimony of one first century man whose activities and even identity are not corroborated by any other known author from the first century? Isn’t that very, very foolish?

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    2. HM — you wrote: The whole point Paul is making ,,, How do you know the point Paul was making? You don’t. You can deduce from your personal reasoning/bias, but this doesn’t make it so.

      Several years ago I wrote a post on the praying Jesus and the sleeping disciples — and wondered how they “heard” Jesus’ prayers if they were asleep. I received several comments that offered “reasons” — including one that said the word “asleep” really didn’t mean “asleep!” SMH

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      1. Kind of like those who say generation didn’t mean generation when Jesus said it. Then they turn around and want to employ divine accommodation to things like Jesus ascending “up” to heaven – well, that’s just put in terms we or the people at the time understand, etc.

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        1. The alleged truthfulness of every superstition on the planet can be harmonized with the facts if one tries hard enough. That is why Islam, Mormonism, and Hinduism are not dying out. Their apologists are just as adept as those for Christianity when it comes to using fallacious, ad hoc rationalizations for the alleged activities of their imaginary celestial superheroes.

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      2. Nan –

        re: “You can deduce from your personal reasoning/bias, but this doesn’t make it so”

        And, quite obviously, you can do the same, and whatever you deduce does not make a thing so.

        re: Several years ago I wrote a post on the praying Jesus and the sleeping disciples — and wondered how they “heard” Jesus’ prayers if they were asleep. I received several comments that offered “reasons” — including one that said the word “asleep” really didn’t mean “asleep!”

        I’ve often wondered the same thing.

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  13. re: “But would you agree that it is still possible that he made up this story, for whatever reason?”

    Like they say, “anything’s possible”. Not everything is likely, though. And, I don’t think it’s remotely likely that he made up the story.

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    1. When evaluating any passage from any book it is important to look at the context. Why did Paul bring up this topic? Here is what a major Christian commentary (Bible Gateway) has to say about this passage and its context:

      After establishing that he was totally independent from the apostles in his conversion experience, Paul now provides a sworn testimony regarding his first encounter with the apostles. His purpose in this account is to demonstrate that his gospel to the Gentiles came not from church tradition but from God, and that he was faithful to this gospel.

      https://www.biblegateway.com/resources/commentaries/IVP-NT/Gal/Pauls-First-Visit-Peter

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      1. So Paul wants to demonstrate to his readers that his teachings come directly from God. He isn’t teaching something that had been passed down from person to person over time (tradition). But the big question is: How does he convince his readers that his (Paul’s) message from God is the same message as taught by Jesus’ original disciples? Answer: He claims that he met with the two senior leaders of the Jerusalem church for TWO weeks, never mentioning what was discussed, but importantly, implying that the visit went off without a hitch: that Paul’s message was exactly the same as that of Jesus’ original disciples.

        But was it? If one reads the Book of Acts, whose historical reliability is itself questionable, we see that Paul and the Jerusalem apostles were often in conflict.

        So I believe it is entirely possible and even probable that if Paul was teaching something new; something that the Judaizers (Peter, James, and the Twelve) did not agree with; yet Paul wanted Jews in other parts of the world to believe he was “one of the team”, he would invent a story which made it appear that the Jerusalem Church accepted him and his teachings.

        I think you are being very naive in trusting this one man’s word.

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  14. I appreciate your thoughts on the topic.

    I don’t agree with it, but I appreciate it.

    I myself don’t regard the book of Acts to be historically reliable, so there’s no real point to dragging it into the mix (as far as I’m concerned).

    You might think I’m being naive in “trusting one man’s word”, but I think you’re way overboard and all over the map in conclusions you draw from texts that you don’t even think are reliable in the first place – and – way overboard in thinking I “trust one man’s word” about much of anything at all. Reading what Paul writes, without all the “filtering” that you do, I just think that what Paul writes is an accounting of WHEN he finally got around to meeting Peter and James. It says nothing whatsoever about what they talked about, or any such thing. If he wanted his text to express “Peter and James thought I hung the moon”, he would certainly have said so. But he didn’t. He said nothing even remotely close to anything like that. Nothing. It’s not there in the text. And, it would be, if Paul wanted in the text.

    So, I just think your conclusions are a lot of “pulled out of thin air” speculation. It’s just “making stuff up”. OR – it’s making use of Acts, and while on one hand, claiming it’s not historically reliable, on the other hand, using that text as if it is.

    It’s all a level of some kind of “mental complexity” that I just can’t relate to. Not saying it’s “bad”, not saying it’s “nutzo”. Just saying, I can’t relate to it.

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    1. But we are talking about a man who believed he received personal communications from the creator of the universe. That is pretty out there. So, if you do not view the Gospels as historically reliable, as you have often stated, then you are totally dependent upon this one man’s testimony for your entire Christian worldview. Is that rational?

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  15. It would be quite irrational to base one’s whole worldview on one man’s testimony.

    But, I don’t do that. You keep on TELLING me what I do, repeating it over and over again, as if repeating it will finally make it true. But the problem has always been that I don’t base my whole worldview on one man’s testimony about anything. At all.

    So, as has always been the case, I’m not sure what you’re talking about.

    But, thanks for the “attack on the opponent”, and not on the argument. It’s your usual reliance on the ad hominem.

    As to this: “…about a man who believed he received personal communications from the creator of the universe”.

    The belief that “God communicates with us”, in and of itself, is not at all irrational. Theism contends that God (and not some mindless, eternal process) created the universe. Either of these beliefs, though, is equally rational. (There is no data whatsoever from whatever preceded the Big Bang, so, you can believe what you choose with equal rationality). The Theist would also contend that the Creator God does involve Himself in the workings of this universe, and in the lives of people, and has always been present for people, and has always sought to communicate with people. It’s a typical Theist assertion. But, in and of itself, it’s not irrational.

    Your “former” brand of Christianity – fundamentalism – is what I’ve always called “spooky Christianity”. It’s something I’ve never had a need or desire for. So, I don’t see things in terms of being an “ex-spooky Christian”. You do. That was YOUR thing, not mine.

    So, clearly, our characterizations of Paul, and our understandings of Paul’s claims of “communication with God” are just going to be two radically different things.

    And, I just don’t think Paul was a “spooky Christian” as you once were.

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    1. Most Christians do not claim that God has appeared to them. In fact, I would bet that the majority of western Christians would agree that a person is probably mentally unstable if he or she believes that God is appearing to him or her in bodily form and verbally communicating through an audible voice. However, for some odd reason, these same people give Jesus of Nazareth and Paul of Tarsus a pass. Not rational.

      Your belief in this ancient tall tale is not rational, FT. Why don’t you move along.

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  16. You see what you’re doing, Gary? “Your belief in this ancient tall tale is not rational, FT. Why don’t you move along”.

    That’s YOU that is trying so hard to make this “personal”. It was YOU who made the first ad-hominem in this thread.

    You see, I don’t have that problem with YOU, Gary. YOU have it with ME. And that should tell you something: If your own reasoning and belief system is so fragile that all you can do is try to get rid of someone who differs from you, then perhaps you need to do some new reasoning and get a new belief system.

    But, since you clearly have nothing more to actually add to this conversation, I’ll check in on a later thread.

    Meanwhile, I’d encourage you to examine yourself. I know that’s not at all a popular thing for those who tend to be Left-leaning (politically), but the whole “cancel culture” thing is very much alive and well in you. I realize asking a liberal to cancel their own involvement in “cancel culture” is usually pretty pointless, but, I’m at least going to ask you to consider it.

    See you down the road….

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    1. Well, I agree with you that Paul’s role in Christianity was far too influential, but I disagree with the rest of your theory.

      Bottom line — Christianity. Simply. Isn’t.

      Liked by 1 person

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